Alamo portal

San Antonio is famed for two things: The Alamo and the Riverwalk. Decades ago My Dear One paused at San Antonio, while on route to California, to see them. He was disappointed. Apparently, the Alamo site was barely a building or two, including the chapel, and primarily intrusive hawkers of cheesy souvenirs. The Riverwalk was a short and muddy trickle.

He did not mention his disappointment to me when we scheduled the first Spring Break stop in San Antonio. I, with eager anticipation, put the Alamo and the Riverwalk at the top of the list of must-sees. What we found was worth the travel–significant improvements over years past.

Riverwalk Loop

The San Antonio River undulates north to south. A loop (“the inner loop”) at the center  is jammed with people, especially in the evening, and awfully touristy. It also lacks good quality ice cream despite the presence of several purveyors of frozen treats. But farther along, in both directions, the murky waters meander past hotels, apartments. Shrubs, grasses and flowering trees soften the hardscape and remind me that human cultures going back thousands of years have depended on this fertile, welcoming place. Absence of railings and, I have heard, a brisk trade in frozen margaritas means that a fair number of people end up in the drink, but the drink is shallow, and I could find no records of serious injury.

Kress Building

Kress Building

San Antonio’s Art Deco cityscape marks the transition from sleepy frontier town to modern metropolis. San Antonio’s empty storefronts and urban ruins document the economic trials of recent decades. Yet it is a friendly town with lively neighborhoods. And slow mornings that signal lively nightlife.

So much of what most people want to see and do is in walking distance of that central loop. From the corner of Houston and Navarro it was a couple of minutes to the nearest stair to the Riverwalk, less than ten minutes to the Alamo, perhaps twelve minutes or so to Market Square, about the same to Schilo’s Deli, and had we walked the river instead of driving the streets, less than twenty to the San Antonio Museum of Art.

blooms by St. Mary’s Street bridge

And every walk seems to cross or coincide with some twist in that stream.